‘Majestic’ Greenland provides UN chief first-hand look at impacts of climate change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, with Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Greenland, 26 March 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saw first-hand the impacts of climate change during a visit today to Greenland, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating.

“I am just overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of this great land, with over 2 million square kilometres of ice cap and with such vast land covered with snow and ice – this is majestic,” Mr. Ban said at a joint press encounter with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

“At the same time, I am deeply alarmed by fast-moving glaciers and by the fast-melting ice cap which raises the sea level, which affects the whole international community’s environmental system,” he added.

Together with the two officials, the Secretary-General spent the morning in the town of Uummannaq, which is several hundred kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

They hoisted flags and observed a prayer ceremony in a local church. The Secretary-General also went dog sledding and met with indigenous people.

Also today, Mr. Ban toured the Ilulissat Icefjord by boat. Designated a World Heritage site by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the fjord is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to better understanding of climate change.

He is also expected to be briefed on solutions available and innovations that are under way to address climate change in Greenland.

The UN chief’s visit is aimed at building momentum ahead of the climate summit which he is convening on 23 September, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its annual high-level debate.

Mr. Ban has invited leaders of Government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change to the summit, which will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.